Godfrey David Albert GALLAGHER
Godfrey Gallagher was born on 13 May 1895 in Mildura, Victoria. His parents were George and Elizabeth Mary (née Jackson) Gallagher. He attended Scotch in 1912 as a boarder. He seems to have been a rather ‘wild boy’. The school register says: ‘Has been away from school & at work for years", that his attainments were "VIth class standard of State School", his probable occupation was Commercial, and that he was "Not a bad boy, but requires tactful management. No father. Been running wild. Has been lazy at study. Quiet". He was only at Scotch for about half of the year.
Godfrey was a clerk at the National Bank, Mildura when he enlisted on 6 January 1915 at Mildura, Victoria. He served in the 22nd Battalion with the final rank of Sergeant. His Regimental Number was 377.
Godfrey died on 11 August 1916 at Pozieres, France. He was 21 years of age.
On enlistment he was just 19 years old and only 5 feet 4½ inches tall. His service file contains a letter from his widowed mother giving him permission to enlist (see below). He had done some service in the pre-war militia, in the 73rd Infantry in Mildura. In April 1915 he became an original member of the 22nd Battalion and was a Lance Corporal by the time he embarked for overseas service on 8 May 1915.
He was made Corporal at Gallipoli on 10 December 1915. This 21 year-old was made a Sergeant on 30 July 1916. Within a week, on 5 August, he received a penetrating wound to the abdomen. An eyewitness said he was wounded by a ‘bomb’. He seemed to be recovering in the British Casualty Clearing Station to which he was taken, but on 11 August became, in the words of the 1917 Collegian, ‘very ill, gradually lost consciousness and passed away.’ The Presbyterian chaplain of the 44th CCS saw Gallagher regularly over the six days before his death and asserted ‘I have seldom met a finer lad or a more patient sufferer. After he was wounded, he was carried back several miles through shell fire into safety by a lad named Dickinson, of 24th Battalion (later killed). The tears were in the boy’s eyes as he told me of the bravery of this lad.’ Coincidentally, this Private Herbert Dickinson’s own account of the incident appears in Gallagher’s Red Cross Wounded and Missing file (see below). He said he had known Godfrey as ‘Goff’ in Mildura and saw him lying on the bottom of a support line trench at Pozieres. Godfrey recognised Dickinson, who helped carry him to an aid station. The Presbyterian minister buried Godfrey in a graveyard alongside many other Australians.
Godfrey Gallagher was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations at Pozieres. He was the first decorated Scotch Collegian to be killed in the war. An unnamed lieutenant from the 22nd Battalion is quoted in Godfrey’s Red Cross Wounded and Missing file as saying that ‘up to the time he was wounded he displayed the utmost disregard for his personal safety.’
Godfrey’s service file contains a copy of a message sent to his mother on 31 August informing her that her son had been wounded but that it had not been reported as serious. In fact by the time the message was sent his wounds had proved fatal. The file also contains a letter sent when his Military Medal was forwarded to his widowed mother (see below).
Godfrey Gallagher is buried in the Puchevillers British Cemetery, France.
Photographs and Documents:
Letter from Godfrey’s widowed mother, dated 28 January 1915, giving him permission to enlist (he had already done so on 6 January)
Herbert Dickinson’s note about Godfrey’s wound, for the Red Cross Wounded and Missing file
Message to Godfrey’s mother informing him that he was wounded (in fact by the time this message was sent, he had died of his wounds)
1917 letter to Godfrey Gallagher’s mother concerning his Military Medal and death
- Australian War Memorial – Roll of Honour and Red Cross Wounded and Missing file
- Mishura Scotch Database
- National Archives of Australia – B2455, GALLAGHER GDA
- Scotch Collegian 1917
- The AIF Project - https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=106425